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Carter Holt paper assets up for sale, Reuters reports

Carter Holt paper assets up for sale as refinancing looms, Reuters says

By Paul McBeth

May 6 (BusinessDesk) – Graeme Hart, New Zealand’s richest man, is looking to sell Carter Holt Harvey Ltd.’s pulp, paper and packaging assets on both sides of the Tasman to meet a looming debt payment, Reuters reported.

The assets have been on the block for the past six months as the forest products company faces a deadline to refinance a $3 billion five-year loan put in place to help fund Hart’s takeover and delisting of Carter Holt in 2006, according to Reuters.

Carter Holt didn’t immediately return BusinessDesk’s calls, while no-one was available for comment at Rank Group, Hart’s primary investment vehicle. Australian rivals Visy Pty. and Amcor Ltd. didn’t immediately respond to inquiries.

Reuters cites two unnamed sources close to potential buyers and two unnamed industry sources.

Potential buyers have received an information memo on the assets, though offers haven’t met Hart’s expectations, Reuters said.

Last October, Carter Holt sold its folding carton assets in Australia and New Zealand to ASX-listed Colorpak Ltd. for a net A$5 million. As part of the deal, Colorpak entered into an agreement of at least two years to be supplied by the Whakatane Mill of Reynolds Group Holdings, Hart’s global packaging empire.

Reynolds has amassed US$16.2 billion of assets during its US$6.5 billion leveraged buy-out of Pactiv Corp. last year.

In February, Carter Holt sold some 17,300 hectares of forestry in the Central North Island for a confidential sum to Te Waihou Plantations, whose directors are executives of Global Forest Partners LP. That’s the American timber investor that bought 67,000 hectares from Carter Holt in 2007 in a joint venture with Weyerhaeuser Co. Global Forest Partners also holds the mandate to manage the New Zealand Superannuation Fund’s global timber assets.


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